Charlton Green was 20 when he was arrested after having oral sex with a 16-year-old male in a Georgia hotel room.
He was convicted of a sex crime — not because the act was not consensual (it was), nor because the teen was not within the age of consent (in Georgia, it is 16). He was convicted because the incident happened in 1997, when oral and anal sex between consenting adults was prohibited under Georgia’s sodomy law. The conviction required him to register as a sex offender, a stigmatizing label that he carried for years.
Georgia’s Supreme Court invalidated the state’s sodomy law a year later, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against all such state laws in 2003, but Green’s legal status remains the same. Although his name was removed from the sex-offender registry in 2012, he remains convicted of sodomy and failure to register as a sex offender. Last week, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal-district court’s ruling that would’ve thrown out those convictions.